2022 Reading Challenge: Read a Book About or Featuring Water

OPL invites patrons to take part in the 2022 Reading Challenge! For each challenge, OPL offers suggestions for titles to listen to or read. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, to let us know which read you picked up this month!

While we may be dreaming of exotic locales, or even a quick dip in the city pool, this Reading Challenge isn’t inspired by wishful thinking. This year’s all ages Summer Reading Program theme is “Oceans of Possibilities.” So, to go with the flow of the theme, test the waters by checking out these various maritime reads and when you’re ready to take the plunge, don’t forget to log those hours.

Let’s start this journey with some well-loved, real-life adventures. Take staff favorites "The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon" by Kevin Fedarko, or "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" by Daniel Brown out for a sail. Maybe "Shackleton: the Biography” by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and "Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage" by Brian Castner will sweep you out to sea.

Search ye tales of the briny deep? Perhaps "Hook's Tale" by John Pielmeier will wet your parrot’s beak, or maybe "The Bright and Breaking Sea" by Chloe Neill, a historical fantasy that follows a captain with an unnatural sense of the ocean’s currents that guide her voyages, will speed your Reading Challenge sails. Mayhaps you’re no scallywag and the true tale, "The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, A Killer, and the Birth of A Gangster Nation" by Rich Cohen will keep ye from walking the plank. 

I’m out of pirate vocabulary, so if you’re in the mood for turn-of-the-century stories about ocean travel based on true events, "The Voyage of the Morning Light" by Marina Endicott and "Orphans of the Storm" by Celia Imrie are right here waiting for you! Diving further back in history, fast-paced adventure awaits readers in "Hold Fast" by J. H. Gelernter, described as “Patrick O’Brien meets James Bond.” 

What readers consider a “beach read” is an annual subject of heated debate for your OPL librarians (hear a little about it on episode 9 of The Book Drop podcast)! Whatever your leisure reading style is, we’ve got an aquatic-oriented option for you. Thriller and social horror fans can pick up "The Siren" by Katherine St. John or "Cherish Farrah" by Bethany C. Morrow. Escape into some historical fiction set in a beautiful locale with "A Theater for Dreamers" by Polly Samson, and travel to Madagascar, a country uniquely shaped by its relationship to water with "Red Island House" by Andrea Lee. If you’re a romance reader, here’s some possibilities, in ascending order of spiciness: "Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships" by Sarah Grunder Ruiz; "Island Affair" by Priscilla Oliveras and "Simmer Down" by Sarah Smith

Readers, I’ll let you in on a secret. I begged to write this blog, because nonfiction about the ocean and its oddities is one of my most beloved micro-genres! I’ll leave you with a handful of personal recommendations. In terms of descriptions, I think you’ll find that their delightful titles speak for themselves: "Why Fish Don't Exist: a Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life" by Lulu Miller, "The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination With the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World" by Patrik Svensson, "Why We Swim" by Bonnie Tsui, "Below the Edge of Darkness: a Memoir of Exploring Light and Life in the Deep Sea" by Edith Widder and "What A Fish Knows" by Jonathan Balcombe.

For more ideas check out this list or request a custom reading list or book bundle, tailored to your interests by OPL librarians.

You may submit your completed reading log online or return a completed tracking sheet to any OPL branch to receive a pin and to be entered into a drawing for some fun literary-themed prizes! All completed tracking sheets or online challenge form entries must be received by December 31, 2022, to be entered into the prize drawing.

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